As a long time resident of Alberta who arrived here in 1970 from England at the age of 22, with ambition, a college education, a box of tools and $350. I have watched with apprehension as our province’s political parties have become more polarized, more mean spirited and more confrontational. They seem to have forgotten that they’re all our employees, elected by us to serve us, their constituents and to represent us and our wishes ahead of their own or any partisan ones. I also believe that all of our elected representatives should be free to vote for their constituents’ wishes as well as what their conscience dictates, free of all partisan control.
I have always been a conservative and one who believes in free enterprise and that government’s role is to enact laws and regulations that encourage this, without stifling small business owners and their entrepreneurial spirit. This is because here in Alberta the majority of businesses are small ones, like mine, with less than 15 employees, who all go to work every day to help make our province the great place it is.
Looking at the PC record over the last 44 years, we can’t be anything but appalled at their fiscal mismanagement, their contempt for us voters, their endless pandering to big business. We also have to ask why we have the most government employees and also the highest paid ones of any province in Canada, with the ones appointed to senior positions who prove inept at their jobs given huge severance bonuses to leave. Our healthcare system is a mess; centralized administration did not work in Russia, so why would anyone think it would work here. Plus, why do we need those legions of high paid managers when we need more front line health staff, especially in our rural areas.
I take great exception to being told to look in the mirror because we’re to blame for the mess our province is in. The last thing we need is to recycle these tired political hacks back into power as they seem more interested in enhancing their salaries and pensions than working for the interest of us Albertans. Because, in my opinion, if we elect the PCs back in again, we face more of the same. Tough times take tough choices and many now have to be made to get Alberta back on a sound fiscal footing. Simple economics tells me that the fairest tax increase to implement now would be a sales tax based on Albertans very conspicuous consumption. Sadly, just about every week I see examples of the financial mess that our working families are getting themselves into with two income families with no savings, half a million or more of debt, two pay days away from fiscal disaster, if disabled by accident or sickness and unfortunately in many cases, oblivious of this.
I have to question why there is no financial education in our schools, to better prepare our future workforce for the economic reality of living for today and not putting away any savings for their “stuff happens” needs or for their eventual retirement pensions.
As a small business owner with a team comprising me and three employees, my biggest concern today is the creeping move to ever more stifling business legislation, towards what I call a “nanny state”, and for examples of this we have to look no further than the “do not call” legislation, which is a total farce, or to the need to get everyone’s permission to send them e-mails. As a life licensed financial advisor who is very aware that most Canadians are underinsured, many with no life, disability, critical illness or long term care coverage.
So my message to Albertans is: Do you want to continue with more years of the same fiscal mismanagement and partisan cronyism, or do we embrace change? I embraced change in coming to this country 45 years ago and I’ve had my share of financial setbacks in this time, but have always been able to recover through hard work and perseverance. I have three children, all successful in their business endeavors and am now blessed with three grandchildren. People tell me I have been lucky, but I like to think that this relates more to the harder I work the luckier I get!
Considering what’s happing in many places around the world, I am truly thankful to have raised a family and to live here in Stettler, Alberta, as it is a caring community full of good neighbors, where volunteerism is alive and well, as is the sense of community. So in closing let’s embrace change, not continue to put up with the same old PC “dog and pony show”, as we owe it to future generations to leave them a better legacy; than to have to deal with our unsustainable and growing provincial debt. We all have the responsibility to vote, as we live in a democracy, but sadly as shown after previous elections many of us choose not to. So to all of you who abstained last time, I would challenge you to get out this time and make your vote count.